Trick or Treat? How to Identify When a Candidate is Lying

It should be noted at the outset that catching a job candidate in a lie during an interview is not the best use of a hiring manager’s time and effort. The focus should be on finding a person who can make an impact at your company and who would be a good fit. The techniques used to determine if someone is lying should come into play only if there are telltale signs; if there are red flags popping up that something is not right.

The first thing to do is establish a standard, something to use as a norm in making judgments about truth or falsehood. To do this, ask the candidate about something they wouldn’t lie about, such as where they live. Then, watch the response, body language, breathing, eyes. This is how the person reacts when being honest, so if there is any noticeable deviation from his kind of response, it should raise a red flag. Some areas to look for.


If they generally look to the left when answering, but suddenly, their eye movements are different, it should raise some suspicion. And, naturally, if they cannot make eye contact with you when answering, this should raise alarms.


A higher or lower tone, speeding up or slowing down, sudden pauses, stammering or throat clearing are all indicators someone isn’t being truthful.

Body language

Things to look for here include fidgeting too much, shuffling the feet, sudden movements, biting or pursing the lips. Covering parts of the body with the hands could also be signs of deception, especially covering the mouth.

Trust your intuition

This is more of a common-sense observation. Sometimes, when you are interviewing a candidate, something just doesn’t seem right. There is something about the person’s answers that seem a little contrived, a little off, and this usually raises red flags, as it should.

However, it is also important to note that you need to be wary of these techniques as well. They are not foolproof. Everyone reacts differently, especially in a pressure situation like a job interview. So, if you have reason to be suspicious, follow up, keep questioning until you can establish beyond a reasonable doubt if the person is lying.

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